Umpires believe that with the proper look, sound mechanics, and a consistent strike zone, umpires can earn four innings, which means they only need to be good for two innings. We all know that’s not true. But just as players make sure they look their best in their uniform when they hit the field, umpires who take their appearance seriously will get more respect from players, coaches, and fans.
An umpire’s uniform is not high fashion, and you certainly don’t have to have supermodel looks, but outward appearance plays a huge part in umpires getting the respect they deserve on the field. A clean, properly-fitted and pressed shirt and pants, polished shoes, well-maintained equipment, along with having a respectful demeanor, are effective ways to show the teams that you respect them and the game.
The next time you walk across the parking lot toward the field, listen to what the players have to say. Many times you can hear the teams say, “We have a real umpire today.”The recommended umpire uniform includes heather or charcoal gray umpire pants, pressed umpire shirt, black shoes, a black belt, and navy (softball) or black (baseball) umpire hat. The color of the shirt and hat are commonly determined by the league or district Umpire-In-Chief. Polo blue, with black and white stripes on the collar and sleeves is generally accepted for shirt color. Make sure the Little League patch is affixed on the left sleeve; the same as Little League players.
Umpires should never go behind the plate without the proper protection. Steel-toed plate shoes, properly-fitted shin guards, groin protection, chest protector, and a facemask or hockey-style helmet are all essential to a plate umpire’s safety.
If you feel that you look good when you step between the lines, there is a solid chance that the players and coaches will notice. The next time you walk across the parking lot toward the field, listen to what the players have to say. Many times you can hear the teams say, “We have a real umpire today.”
Take pride in your gear. Keep it clean and in good condition. A few minutes invested in “clean-up” after each game will extend the life of the equipment and save you from having to spend money on replacements. Also, be prepared to make quick repairs. For each game, pack an extra set of shoe laces, shin guard straps, hat, tee shirt, umpire shirt and pants, just in case. Remember, you don’t have to buy everything at once. Start with the basics to protect yourself behind the plate and in the field, and then you can add and replace as you go.
The goal of every umpire is to do right by the children. If you look good, have confidence, solid mechanics, and you take the field with only the game on your mind, you’re going to have fun, and be successful.